As the middle child of ten children, I learned about community and fairness every single day growing up in eastern Montana. Those values have guided me throughout my life. When I stood up to corporate monopolies who were charging Montanans too much — I did it for my community and because it was the right thing to do.
Right now, our home — Montana — isn’t being treated with the respect and fairness that it deserves. Our communities are being divided and people in the middle can’t get ahead no matter how hard they work. Growing up on a ranch in eastern Montana, we’d never stand aside if one of our neighbors was in need and I refuse to start now. I’m running for Congress because Montana is becoming a playground for the rich and I refuse to lose the home that I grew up in, worked for my entire life, and love with my whole heart.
Working together, we can chart a different course for Montana — one that is full of opportunity for all of us.
One of the plans I am proposing is my Working Families Affordability Plan. You can read more about that here.
Read more on where I stand by clicking on the links below:
Montana has a rich, strong history of standing up to corporate power and greed and fighting for fair political practices. However, it’s no secret. Montana is becoming a playground for the rich, where only the wealthy can afford to buy houses and enjoy our natural resources. But this didn’t happen by chance.
Legislation like the 2017 Tax Bill passed by the Republican Congress has led to dozens of corporations paying $0 in taxes, (such as Nike, Fedex, etc.) leaving hard working families with the bill. Not to mention the tax cuts afforded to the ultra rich that allow them to move their money around to avoid paying taxes. We need to update our tax code so that everyone is paying their fair share.
Taking on Monopoly Greed
I know how to hold corporations accountable when they act contrary to the public good. I’ve kept $10 million dollars in the pockets of Montanans when NorthWestern energy tried to saddle our state with a bill for their failure to plan.
And they’re not the only ones. Our farmers and ranchers are being pushed out of the industry by megacompanies that seek to only make profits for themselves by dictating prices and driving competition out of business. This isn’t acceptable and I will hold these corporations accountable and work to pass common sense legislation that levels the playing field for Montana’s farmers and ranchers. Congress must pass the American Beef Labeling Act and Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for livestock producers and consumers.
There are efforts underway in state legislatures to protect corporations from legal liability by imposing mandatory arbitration clauses, waiving the Seventh Amendment right to a jury in civil actions, limiting or ending class actions, closing the federal courts to certain claims, and capping damages, which interferes with plaintiffs’ access to counsel.
Our courts must be open to hearing the claims brought by the “little guy”–the consumer, the people who are suffering from pollution, and the people who are wrongfully injured from corporations. As an attorney, I know all too well that having a fair fight is many times as important, if not more important, than the final outcome. Having a fair hearing makes sure that all evidence is heard and the correct law is considered.
I support the FAIR Act, which ends forced arbitration. In Congress, I will also draft and support laws that secure justice based on the merits of the case.
For too many families, affording a decent place to live has become almost impossible. It wasn’t always that way, and doesn’t have to be that way now. Congress can act to make the housing we already have more affordable, and to support the building of the additional housing we need.
What Congress can best do is support local efforts by providing financing assistance for new construction and renovation, and rental assistance for those households that simply cannot afford to buy a home right now.
Congress can also pass common sense legislation that addresses the issue of hedge funds buying up real estate and driving the market prices up.
Infrastructure & Broadband
Infrastructure is all those assets that we own in common – roads, bridges, schools, airports, hospitals, broadband and so forth – that make it possible for us to work productively and live well. It is essential to a healthy economy in which everyone can prosper. For many years, our infrastructure was allowed to deteriorate, but recently Congress passed an infrastructure bill that begins to turn that deterioration around. It’s crucial that we have someone in Washington who will fight to get every dollar we can to Montana.
Small businesses, public schools, and rural hospitals alike need reliable access to Broadband. When meeting with Montanans, I’ve heard stories of students sitting in fast food restaurants to do their homework and small businesses who can’t accept credit cards because of lack of internet access. Montanans deserve better infrastructure and I’ll work hard to make sure they get it.
Unions brought us living wages, safe working conditions, and dignity and respect in the workplace. In the 1950s, 1 out of every 3 workers belonged to a union, and Montana was a proud union state. But today, only 10% of workers belong to a union, people are not always paid living wages, and the new economy does not give a pathway for workers to advance in their careers or have security in their future.
Montana Leading the Energy Transition
The accelerated transition to clean renewable energy will define our economy in the next 20 years, and Western Montana needs a representative with the knowledge and experience to lead us forward. Our federal government can provide incentives to help create or expand new and diverse climate-friendly businesses, at the pace and scale this climate emergency demands. Western Montana is poised to be at the forefront, growing high-paying solar, wind, geothermal, energy technology and energy efficiency jobs. With the right investments and leadership, which I’m ready to help create, we can harness our natural resources and human ingenuity to assist this energy transition, enabling healthier air, water, people and a safe and stable climate.
I have worked with renewable energy producers throughout my professional career. I know how our laws and policies actually work – or don’t work – on the ground. My experience advocating for farmers, ranchers, energy producers and everyday Montanans makes me the best choice to represent us in Congress. I will jump right in to drive new efforts that are truly effective, equitable, and reduce carbon pollution, allowing us to meet this energy transition moment.
Montana communities whose economies have depended on producing coal, oil and gas face an uncertain future unless Congress and the federal government assist their transitions. I believe we can secure a livable future for all by enabling and funding the reclamation and restoration work those communities are prepared to do. And we can make sure that workers and communities in those industries will be able to take advantage of the abundant new opportunities created by the growth of solar, geothermal, and wind – all of which we are blessed with today.
Preparing Montana for a Changing Climate
Here in Montana we are acutely feeling the effects of climate change. Hotter summers, increased droughts, reduced snowpack, longer wildfire seasons and more wildfire smoke are risks we need to urgently address. We can help communities, rural areas and open lands prepare for changes which will only worsen unless we act with urgency. Congress must lead, allocating the necessary resources to better prepare our homes and communities.
Congress recently stepped up its leadership role by passing funding for needed infrastructure, designed in part to help communities protect themselves from the increased risks of flooding, fires and storms. But that is only a start. We must provide needed incentives and resources to build and retrofit our homes and businesses, improve our transportation options, clean up our air, and so much more.
Fortunately, our state is rich with people ready to roll up their sleeves to build a resilient Montana – this includes students researching how to assist farmers and ranchers as temperatures warm, health care professionals helping people access clean indoor air, builders weatherizing homes so utility bills shrink while comfort grows, and solar installers providing clean energy. As your representative, I will work alongside Montanans to accomplish the work for which they are so passionate.
Montana faces a choice between two starkly different futures. We could become a forgotten zone that sees the worst impacts of climate change and misses the benefits of the new clean economy. Or our abundant renewable resources can bring prosperity while well-planned mitigation efforts build the resilient climate we need to protect our natural heritage, and us.
The difference will be leadership, and I am ready to lead Montana toward a safe, secure future.
Not a Playground for the Rich
I grew up in eastern MT on a ranch where my parents allowed people to hunt on our land. We need to protect hunting opportunities for all Montanans, not carve out exceptions so that billionaires with thousands of acres of private land can privatize and get rich off of our public resources.
Conservation is about how we protect public and private land from misuse, how we protect the quality of water in a world where it’s becoming more scarce, how we preserve access to the hunting and fishing places that our parents and grandparents took us to, and how we make sure Montana’s public lands remain open to all of us and that Big Sky Country does not turn into a playground for the rich. Congress has a vital role in making those things happen.
Keeping public land public of course plays an important role in protecting land and water resources. We also need to assure that public lands are not managed to exclusively serve commercial and corporate interests. Public lands provide us with all sorts of benefits: wildlife habitat, opportunities for recreation, water quality protection, natural beauty. But it shouldn’t be just the dollars and jobs from commercial exploitation that drive our decisions about how we use public lands. We need leadership in Washington that will protect the public’s interest in public lands.
I’ve spent 20+ years as an attorney in Montana working with and for Montanans. I’ve helped my clients protect their property rights from megacorporations.
The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act brought ranchers, loggers, recreationists, business owners, and conservationists together to chart a path forward for the Blackfoot River Watershed. It is an example of neighbors working through differences to achieve a common goal.
Montanans need a leader in the US House of Representatives who will join with Senator Jon Tester in supporting this bill that was crafted by the people on the ground who will be most affected by it – Montanans. In Congress, I’ll continue to put local Montanans’ interests and voices at the forefront of conservation decisions.
2020 saw one the highest levels of voter participation in a presidential election since 1900. We should be celebrating this high turnout, regardless of the electoral result. However, 19 states have responded by enacting laws that will make it harder for Americans to vote. That’s not right, and it’s why we need federal legislation to ensure that regardless of what state a voter lives in they have safe, secure, and reliable access to voting.
Getting Money out of Politics
If we want to secure our democracy, and make sure it represents Montanans’ best interests, we need to get dark money out of politics. Since the Citizens United ruling, the prevalence of misinformation and dark money has grown. In order to make sure that people’s voices are being heard over the interests of corporations we need to get money out of politics.
We also need to end policies that make it easier for politicians to enrich themselves while in office. Members of Congress should not be allowed to trade stocks while in office.
Right to a Free Press
As I travel across the district, one thing I frequently hear Montanans say is, “I don’t know who to trust any more.” Out of state, private interests are driving a wedge between neighbors in order to make a quick buck. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the way news is reported and shared.
Since 2005, more than 2,100 local newspapers have closed, and our country has only half of the journalists who used to cover local beats. What this means is that fewer journalists are at city council meetings and school board meetings to tell us what is happening. Journalists are no longer writing about the human interest stories that tell us about the life of the small towns and rural areas in our country. And readers no longer have a common set of facts to decide how to best serve their communities, state, and nation.
Our Founders believed in the right to a free press being the foundation of our democracy, and so do I. Congress must support our local press. The Local Journalist and Sustainability Act is one way to increase the profitability of local newspapers so they can stay in local hands. This law proposes payroll tax credits for newspaper companies that hire local reporters–the credit is equal to 50% of the first year salary and 30% of wages for four more years. The law will also give a tax credit to consumers who subscribe to a local newspaper of their choice.
For 50 years, Roe v. Wade shielded women and pregnant people from state laws limiting abortion access. In June 2022, the Supreme Court took the extraordinary action of reversing this precedent, making it the first time in history that the highest court took away a fundamental right.
The right to a safe and legal abortion is under attack in Montana. Montana’s Attorney General asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a 1999 opinion that found the state constitution’s right to privacy guarantees a woman’s access to an abortion. In August 2022, Montana Governor Gianforte got involved in the case and asked the court to allow the legislature to regulate access to abortion care in the state.
If the Republican-controlled legislature gets the chance to decide, it has promised a total ban on abortion with no exception for rape, incest, or the life of the mother. The state Republican party is seeking a supermajority to change our state constitution to end abortion access. In Congress, national Republicans promised a national ban on abortion if the Republicans gain a majority.
Zinke refuses to rebuke the extremism in his party. He has not
criticized the Montana State Republican’s party call for a “complete
ban on elective abortion”, which severely limits access to abortions for children, in the case of rape and incest, and when the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother.
They have spoken, but we get the next word. I am an unequivocal supporter of safe and legal abortion access. For women, deciding whether to have children—and how many we have—determines our life courses. Pursuing dreams and ambitions like becoming a high-level or professional athlete, obtaining a degree, having a career, having child respect, volunteering in our communities, or taking care of elderly parents are the pursuits—what the Founders called the pursuits of our happiness—that give our lives meaning. Our choice to be a parent—or not be a parent—directly impacts the time we have to make our world a better place.
If elected, I will champion national laws to protect the freedom to choose how we use our time and treasure, which is directly impacted by abortion access, contraception, and real policies–that are listed below–that make it possible for families who wish to have children, to get the support them need to do so.
Freedom to Care for Your Family
As a mom of three daughters, I know how hard it can be to work and care for your children. Right now, families, with women bearing the brunt of it, are facing impossible choices of having to return to work without adequate child care. In fact, 64% of young women, as a whole, cite the lack of affordable child care as the reason they are not choosing children. We are only 1 of 7 countries in the entire world that does not provide paid family leave. In some cities, people spend more money on child care than rent, and in rural areas in Montana, there are entire child care deserts which place ever increasing hardships on grandparents and extended family members.
I will support policies like the child tax credit and paid family leave that give Montanans the freedom to care for their kids and families the way they believe is best.
Ensuring Kids are School-Ready
We must ensure Montana’s kids are school ready when they get to Kindergarten.
Right now, Montana and our country is woefully lagging behind in early childhood education and the impact of this will be seen for decades. Among 36 industrialized countries, the United States is the only one to not provide early education programs (pre-K) to all 4 year olds. And we are last among 36 countries that provide child care for 3 to 5 year olds. I support efforts to create high-quality early childhood programs to secure the economic future and well-being of Montana’s children.
Investing in Rural Schools
The best reforms support local innovation and control, increase teacher pay, and reverse the defunding of public schools, especially in rural areas. It would be shocking if our states provided fire fighters only to rich communities rather than sending them to where they are needed; however, that is how we currently fund public education in the United States.
For example, the 2001 law Leave No Child Behind Law discriminates against rural areas and small towns by employing criteria that deem rural schools to be failing when they are not. Such schools then suffer by losing funding and not being able to attract and retain high quality teachers. This cycle must end – we must fund schools so that all of Montana’s children can succeed.
Higher Education & Trade Schools
In Montana, the crown jewels of our education system are our state universities. I support making four-year college more affordable by making need-based scholarships available and charging students the same interest rate that the Federal government charges banks: 0%.
Montana’s community colleges and trade schools provide educational programs that are essential to those who wish to acquire vocational skills or transition into a different career. Ensuring Montanans have access to career ready programming is essential and worth funding. I fully support free and affordable tuition to community colleges.
Respecting Tribal Sovereignty & Democratic Participation
Montana tribal nations face challenges to their sovereignty and democratic participation. In Congress, I will partner with tribal governments to help meet those challenges. In 2020, the Supreme Court’s decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, was a long overdue enforcement of our federal government’s treaties with specific tribes. I will support legislation to codify the federal government’s obligations to fulfill their treaty obligations with tribal nations.
Additionally, Federal legislation is needed to nullify the laws passed by Republicans that make it harder for Native Americans to vote. Such laws are intended to suppress the Native vote, and are a shameless attack on democracy.
Federal Response to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis
There is also an immediate crisis as indigenous women face violence at unprecedented rates: more than 4 out of 5 American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced violence. On some reservations, women are murdered or reported missing at rates more than 10 times the national average. The federal government has failed to provide an immediate and adequate response. I support continued efforts to combat the violence against Native women.
Supporting Economic Development & Internet Access
While much of the country moved to school and work online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many reservations and rural areas were left without reliable internet access. It’s unacceptable to leave our reservations and rural areas behind on education and small business development when it is a basic need to participate in our economy.
Lastly, we have to eliminate racial bias in the state and federal criminal justice systems. In Montana, tribal members make up 6% of our population, but 21% of the inmates in men’s state prisons and 34% of the inmates in women’s state prisons. Nearly half of native inmates had no criminal history before their current sentence. Other states are implementing reforms to offset racial bias by redacting identifying information on charging documents so prosecutors charge only on the seriousness of the crime, rather than the race or other personal characteristics of the accused. Congress must pass laws to ensure the enforcement happens with fairness.
Montanans and Native Americans in our state have a strong history of service and dedication to protecting our freedoms and defending our nation. Our state is one of the leaders in the nation for those that answer the call of service and to protect our freedoms. Native Americans serve at a higher per capita rate of their population than any other demographic.
Over 100,000 veterans call Montana home. Those who have served our country deserve to be honored when they leave service and our promises to them must be kept. We must provide quality, timely health care, job training services, affordable housing, mental health services, and increase employment opportunities for our nation’s veterans.
On the trail, I’ve talked with veterans from Columbia Falls to Victor, and heard their need for access to healthcare and a Congress that is willing and ready to work for them, not against them. Honoring our veterans after serving our country is not a partisan issue. I will work to fulfill our country’s promises to those that have served.
Improving Access to VA Hospitals
Service, efficiency, and accountability must be improved within the VA and VA hospitals in order to provide critical health care and services for veterans in need. Applications for assistance take too long to process and are burdensome, delaying care. Our veterans deserve access to quality healthcare. I support increasing funding and oversight, and hiring and retaining doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals so our veterans get the quality care they need.
Increasing Mental Health Services
Suicide and homelessness among our veterans are unacceptable. Too many of our service members are suffering, and have become invisible. One Vietnam vet told me that he felt as though the country was simply waiting for his era of vets to just die. This must change. Veterans who suffer from PTSD after returning from combat lack adequate access to mental health services and treatment options.
I visited the new Southwest Veterans Home in Butte, where the oldest WWII vet from Pearl Harbor lives, and saw a great example of care being delivered in the community so our veterans can age in dignity and be close to their families. I am committed to supporting and providing funding for the nine new veterans clinics, vet centers, or telehealth clinics across Montana, including the veterans clinic expansion in Missoula and the new Southwest Veterans Home in Butte, so more Montana veterans have access to and receive care.
I fully support Senator Tester’s bipartisan PACT Act to fulfill our promise of providing health care to sick and dying veterans exposed to toxic burn pits. I stand with Senator Jon Tester and thank him for championing the PACT Act while others stood in the way playing partisan games. I will work with Senator Tester and will always fight for our veterans. This legislation sunsets in ten years. The next steps are to build on this success and make permanent the services and care we promised our veterans and their families.
Thousands of Montanans rely on Social Security each month to help them make ends meet. We need to secure our funding for social security rather than put this program on the chopping block. Our seniors worked hard to earn these benefits and paid into them with the expectation that the money would be there for them when they turned 65. We need to honor our end of the agreement. I refuse to support any legislation that makes cuts to Social Security.
Nobody should be forced to choose between getting the care they need and putting food on the table. But for too many Americans that’s an issue they’re facing. We need greater transparency in pharmaceutical drug pricing, and we need to make sure that all Americans have access to an affordable healthcare plan, whether through a private insurer or the public marketplace, regardless of pre-existing conditions.
We need to give Medicare the power to negotiate lower prescription drug prices so that our seniors aren’t being gouged by pharmaceutical companies.